Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Christmas Stocking Story

Many years ago, in the 3rd century or so I am told, there lived in Greece a man called Nicholas. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra and there are many stories and legends about how he spent his whole life giving gifts to people in need. One of these stories is about stockings...

 Origami figure from St Nicholas Center website
One night, or so the story goes, Nicholas was visiting a village when he heard about a poor merchant who couldn't afford to give his three daughters a dowry, which meant they couldn't marry and may have to spend the rest of their lives as servants.  

Knowing the proud merchant wouldn't accept charity, he rode by that night on his white horse and tossed three bags of gold coins into the merchant's chimney.  The bags fell down the chimney and landed in each of the girls stockings which had been hung up that night by the fire to dry.  On waking the next morning, the girls were delighted to find their gifts and went on to make good marriages. 

And since that day, children have hung up their stockings by the fire, hoping for gifts to fall down the chimney from St Nicholas....

And so the story of St Nicholas and the gifts given in stockings began. But over the years in different countries, the giver of gifts changed his name - in the UK, he became known as Father Christmas, and in France Père Nöel. In Germany he was called The Christ Child, or Christkindel, and the tradition travelled to America and became Kris Kringle. And in Holland, toys were left in wooden shoes called clogs by Sinterklaas - and Dutch settlers to the USA are likely to be the origin of the modern name Santa Claus.

And the origin of the famous red coat. Is it in recognition of St Nicholas's bishops robes? Or is it from the time of the early Coca-Cola adverts? Perhaps only St Nicholas knows.

Of course fashion changes and children usually wear socks instead of stockings now. I remember as a child using one of my father's old football socks as a "stocking" as it was bigger than my child sized sock. It was big enough for lots of goodies including an orange and some walnuts, a book and a small toy or two. And of course some sweets and chocolate. It did look rather lumpy though!  Do you remember what was in your stocking as a child?

I hope St Nicholas (or Father Christmas or Santa Claus...) leaves some great gifts in your stockings this year.  And if you don't fancy leaving him a lumpy old football sock to fill, why not take a look at some of my quirky Christmas Stockings (available to purchase seasonally through my shops)

Nativity Stocking by The Old Button
Howdy Santa Stocking by The Old Button
Holiday Santa Stocking by The Old Button

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